Podcasting with Poet & Playwright Michael Magee

One of the best things about being a part of the Literally Tacoma podcast is having the opportunity to get to know all my favorite authors, poets, and artists here in Washington’s South Sound. This week, William Turbyfill and I sat down to interview one of my favorite poets, Michael Magee.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, Michael Magee is a local playwright, poet, and world traveler after my own heart. In this podcast episode he explains all about his travels through Europe, his family history, and the evolution of his creative work. Before Michael left, William and I were able to snag a few copies of his coveted work:

michael-magee-bwCinders of My Better Angels: a full length collection of poetry exploring the author’s struggle with cancer, images of the body, and metaphors dealing with time and place. A few of my favorite poems in this collection are “Touched” and “Song for the Body Waking.”

Ireland’s Eye: An American Irishman’s Journal and Walking Papers: a shorter chapbook featuring poetry, philosophical musings, and short essays the author wrote as he traveled through Ireland. Read “Sixteen Miles to Skibbereen” to fold yourself into the narrative.

Poets Table Anthology: A  Collection of Poetry by Northwest Poets: includes a number of poems by Michael Magee, as well as those of nine other poets of the Pacific Northwest.  “Easter Rising” is a lovely poem worth reading and emulating, in my humble opinion.

Michael Magee also manages the Poetry Box at Freighthouse Square in Tacoma, WA, in addition to working with the Tacoma Public School System. He’s been known to haunt local poetry readings, as well. 

Happy reading (and listening) my friends.

Road Trips & Poems: A Review of Pacific Northwestern Poetry Collections

Each year, the fall season finds me travelling, reading indulgently, and sipping hot drinks on cold, quiet porches. Over the last decade I’ve managed to spend each late September in a different city, state, or country, never the same. This fall, though, I decided to focus both my travels and reading choices on our very own Pacific Northwest.

Within the last thirty days, I took road trips through Oregon wine country into the golden hills of California, rambled the winding trails of Washington’s North Cascades, and hitched a ride on ferry boats churning through Southern Alaskan waters.

But let’s not forget the poetry chapbooks I stuffed in my backpack each time I embarked on a new journey : all delightful reads, most written by local authors and a few that I passed on to friends whom I knew needed to get lost in a good book.

Below are a few of my favorite travelling books this month, each a companion, each wonderful in its own way. Enjoy!

bugleBugle by Tod Marshall

(read while travelling through Washington, Oregon and California)

Washington’s Poet Laureate, Tod Marshall, stunned me with this short but impactful collection of poems. The imagery in many of the pieces is raw and cutting, and there were more than a few times that I reread a poem to acknowledge the honestly of the author’s narrative. At times, Marshall confronts readers with the ugly truths of human nature which make us uncomfortable. This quality, I feel, is both important and necessary of a representative of poets (that’s you, Mr. Marshall). Overall, I was more surprised by the grit of this collection than any other I read this year.


Benchmarks by Richard Dauenhauer

(read while travelling through Yukon Territory and the waterways of southern Alaska)

My favorite and most inspiring poetry book this year, Benchmarks blew me away. Written by the late Alaska Poet Laureate and Linguist, Richard Dauenhauer, this collection plays with language and nature in a lighthearted way. Dauenhauer’s style is a lovechild of Walt Whitman and Gary Snyder, with a little E.E. Cummings thrown in to make you giggle about potatoes (read the book, you’ll know what I mean).  The poems span the author’s lifetime of work, allowing readers to experience the author’s transformation of style and content. “Unfinished Business” and “First Day of Fall” are lovely poems. Read and enjoy.

 chinook-chanterelleChinook & Chanterelle by Robert Michael Pyle

(read while travelling through Eastern Washington)

If you enjoy naturalist poetry, or if you’re the kind of person who finds joy in the small, quiet moments of life, then you’ll absolutely love this book. Robert Michael Pyle, a naturalist and writer from Southwestern Washington, pulled together poetry that quietly folds readers back into the ecosystem, away from our cities and technology.  Most of Pyle’s work in this collection focuses on a diverse array of flora and fauna. Two poems in particular, “Pollen Nation” and “Pencil Shavings,” are a few of my new favorites. If you need to unwind, or reconnect with the natural world, read Chinook & Chanterelle.

page divider

Happy Reading, My Friends

Caught in the Body

A glottal stop is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract.

It halts you. At the back of your throat. Threatening to
Let the air escape onto the roof
Where your voice is choked and clinging
To the rafters, unable to say anything
As simple or as beautiful as a good man’s name.


An umlaut rests with the body.
And if you lean down close enough,
I mean really close so close so far down that
Your breath rustles his paper gown and
Your cheek bones brush against his leathered skin,
You can still hear his vocal chords

Vibrating in celebration of story.
The back of Uncle’s tongue
Speaking in prayer

A community firing funeral hymns from the hip
Taking their aim in two languages
Until everyone is filled

With the sound of his name: Kànälna

Ray. We carry your name on ours backs,
We’ll pack your story to the smokehouse
In Klukshu.

But for now, you must go with Grandmother.

Kànälna. Ray Jackson. Chief.
Go with grandmother.

Take her bannock and tea
And tell her she gave you power with your name.

We will not
Forget you.

Read more about Ray Jackson and a few of his (many) contributions to his community and family in Yukon Territory, Canada, by visiting this article via CBC News.


A Literary Podcast ft. Bad-Ass Poet, Conne Walle

connie___Literally_tacomaMy dear friends, if you haven’t been introduced to Connie Walle before, please, let me have the honor. Connie Walle, who William and I had the pleasure of interviewing a few weeks ago, is an a bad-ass poet and the president of the Puget Sound Poetry Connection here in the Pacific Northwest.

Connie is also one of the sassiest women I’ve met, and I love her for it. I’m always eager to chat with strong women who strive to positively impact their community, and Connie does just that. In fact, she was recently recognized for her amazing work by the Tacoma Arts Commission when she received the 2015 AMOCAT  Arts Award for community outreach by an individual.

It was incredibly fun to interview Connie, and I hope listeners will appreciate her wit, her poetry, and her spirit as much as we did here at Literally Tacoma. Put the coffee on, pull up a chair, and enjoy the podcast. Happy listening!

{For those of you who don’t know, Literally Tacoma is literary-themed podcast produced by Creative Colloquy, a literary organization that fosters the writing community in the South Sound through unique literary events and publications}